Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Here is Today's Musings. You can see all of these writings by simply scrolling down past today's words.
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I said that I was going to connect today’s writing with yesterday’s and I will. But in rereading yesterday’s writing, the first thing that comes to mind is that I seem to insist upon writing these daily ramblings without too much regard for proof reading. And, I feel I must apologize for that. Certainly I can make excuses for yesterday… I can say that I had a lot of letters to write, or that I was trying to get the HOMEPAGE and the overview page up and going so the whole of this group tied together nicely. But the fact does remain that I made some spelling mistakes so I guess it was harder for you to understand what I was saying. It was a mistake, and I will try to be better.
I got a question in the mail yesterday that I thought I would answer publicly. They asked me why I had not made this site earlier. Well the answer is that I am stupid and poor. The stupid part is that I simply didn’t know about the Blogger and so I did not know that this was available. I wanted to make a website about this but I didn’t know how and had no money to do it. I did though try to contact the American press in 2002, but other than “Oregon Cycling Magazine” wanting me to write an article about it (I did not), no body seemed to care. This hurt. And when Peter Molga of the Warsaw “Gazzetta” never wrote a word about the situation for the Polish press (he was intimately involved with the case and was at Zaremba’s day of testimony), the situation just got away from me. This site is possible because of a suggestion from Klaus, the Czech Baron who told me about it. I was looking for a way to get the book and the story out into the public and he suggested this. So far, this seems to be working out just fine. It is free, easy to maintain, and as you see, once you get the hang of it, it can be quite a useful tool. I say this because of the number of letters I am getting from people who have seen it. It is getting out there. The point is being made.

Here is today’s essay: Scenarios

Yesterday morning I was running scenarios through my head of how this little situation of mine would have played out if different choices were made by all. This is like the movie “A wonderful life” where George Bailey wonders what life would have been like without him. I am a playwright you know, so I like this game. I came up with some interesting thoughts.
Let’s say that the judge, instead of holding my passport, takes my $1000 bail way back in May 2002 and I am free to go back to Belarus and start up with what I was doing. Now firstly, I would now be $1000 short, and this would probably have an influence on our start up business. I can’t say specifically that we could not have our own place, though that would be possible, but certainly the amount of bikes we can buy would be limited somewhat, and business might be slowed down. However, because I am here and doing what I said I would, everyone is excited. Because of all of the riding I had done here I have presented myself as an advocate of physical culture and I am a face here. They believe! And even though we must work on a shoestring, all of this energy I had put into this, all of that good will and trust now perhaps allows us a larger amount of business than a normal business would have. In other words, we are a success in spite of our adversity. Because of this, the play I was writing, though it probably would have been a little while longer in coming, is at least written in the style I wanted it written with direct, interactive participation of all that were involved. Not a simple translation but a real Russian language play. And because I am a “face” here, when we are finished and because we wrote it here, the theatre works with me with great interest, the play is a success and Pinsk is alive with the idea of new ideas and new possibilities. The family has a bit more money, Tatyana gets to work for her own gig, I have something to do in Pinsk…
And as far as Poland is concerned; I deal with the court case via the internet and show up for scheduled interviews or work in writing via e-mail. This latter works really well because as I am “home” as it were and this allows me to work from a position of strength and comfort rather than one in which I am under constant duress and threat. Because I am here and working, I have a lot of people with vested interests in my life I have people I can trust and so everything is translated and discussed quickly. Local advocates with knowledge of the Polish system are available. And because the court has no American fool physically there to laugh at and amuse itself with, they actually have to deal with the case within the scope of reality. Probably Zaremba is found to be full of crap after a short investigation but because he is a cop they give him a slap on the wrist. Poland gives me my money back. We spend some of it on the business guaranteeing next years success and we have a little party to celebrate at the bike shop where everybody drinks and dances together.
Because all ends up well, I am free to business in Poland because I can see that even though they have a few rotten apples (doesn’t everyone?), they are still thought of as basically good. Because it would still be cool to go to Poland, I could use Polish distributors for bikes and bike parts, I could travel freely there and perhaps eventually there would even be some business to do with the bikers there that had met.
A little utopian you say? Yea, maybe. But in this scenario, E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y-W-I-N-S and everybody is happy.
Here’s another scenario. And this one is even simpler: Wiesniakowski the prosecutor knows that Zaremba’s story is crap. At the end of our interview on May 16th, when I say to Wiesniakowski that I am going back to Belarus and that I would forget it if they would, he thinks about it for a minute and then DOES NOT decide to screw my life over anyway. He DOES NOT make the decision that I am a cash cow and that he can make money off of me. He DOES NOT try to use me for extortion. He DOES NOT make a pawn out of poor, stupid Zaremba, offering him protection in return for a part of the money he might win. He DOES NOT attempt to orchestrate his little game, endangering the jobs of his associates and bringing shame on his office; he simply does the right thing and does his job. He stamps the case closed, advises Zaremba never to touch American bikers again, the cops drive me to the train to make sure I am on it and gone and I have a cool story to tell the guys while we are building our bikes.
Not as utopian, but quicker, and again, nobody really loses. And maybe Zaremba doesn’t crash his car again in June because he is caught righteously the first time.
A third scenario comes in June when I come back from Gdansk in fear and ask the embassy about the status of my case. In this scenario, the embassy flatly demands the truth from the prosecutor about the meeting regarding my passport. They tell me about the meeting, I go, make a winning argument and I am free to go back with Tatyana. I am still involved with the case though, and I am a lot poorer because of the money spent to go to Gdansk. However, because all is understood, my American friends say they understand what happened, and we secure another loan to cover the losses, business proceeds, and succeeds though I still have to return from time to time to deal with the case. However, as I am not there to play with, again the case collapses under its own weight of foolishness and in the end, Poland has to pay me back a little money for the accusation and the months stay. Not much, only a little. And of course because they have to pay a little, Zaremba now takes a hit for his driving. In this case, we all lose a little, but at least the American embassy has supported an American citizen abroad; I am a hero and they are heroes and the guys from the embassy get invited to the party.
A variation on this is that the embassy AT LEAST supports me when I come to them with the information about the missed meeting later in the year. In this scenario they quickly confirm that the prosecutor was indeed the liar in that moment. The embassy signs a document to this effect -which at least showed that they did support an American citizen though were duped by a lying, corrupt foreign prosecutor. Seeing this letter and realizing that their house-of-cards case is now falling all around them the courts immediately snap back to reality. The judge declines to even hear the case because it is based on false or nonexistent evidence. I am free to go and, because it is seen that there is at least some degree of a possibility of honesty in Poland, I make a claim for a little bit more in damages; which is paid quickly in a show of good will. I am late for this year’s business, but have a good start on next year. I am home with Tatyana for her birthday and the New Years party; free and with a good story to write about over the winter. The embassy, though receiving sideways glances is still invited to the party. Zaremba takes a big hit, the prosecutor in censured for his actions, but the court is still clean and at least in that, Poland can still claim some small sense of pride.
Don’t buy that one? How about this one?
The prosecutor knows that Zaremba is a liar, but decides that he is simply not paid enough as a public prosecutor to justify letting an American get away without taking as much of his money as he can find. The prosecutor tells Zaremba that he is a fool, but that he will help him if he plays along with the game that he himself will set up. The prosecutor pressures the American to come to him to make a deal, but the damned fool American simply will not budge. So, they pull his passport, create an economic situation wherein it is cheaper to simply pay them off rather than to stay and deal with the justice system. They even got the American Embassy to work against him, but still the American tells them to shove it. They decide that this adversarial attitude towards simple corruption needs to be dealt with with a stronger hand, and threaten to shoot the American if he doesn’t wise up. Nothing. By now, Poland is hurting because they have made fools of themselves. The American is going to the Polish press, he is writing papers. All of this is going to hurt Poland publicly. So now everyone is involved and they decide to play the game based on the premise of general nostalgia for Polish solidarity. They continue the action even though they have to close their eyes and hold their breath for every minute of it- everybody feels like they have got cancer for like a year. Nobody is happy. Nobody gets money. Everybody is a liar. The Belarussians suffer. The Polish suffer. There is no Party. There is no bike shop. There is no play. Nobody wins. In fact, under this scenario, there is nothing of any merit at all that comes from any of this. Well, that’s not entirely true. The America got a book out of it. And everybody got a story about a guy who would not pay extortion in Poland and what happened and who was involved. But really it’s true: Nobody really wins there, do they? And we all still feel sick don’t we? Don’t you? Don't you?!
What did any of us get other than a free public website, maintained daily by a guy who only wanted to fix bikes in his grandma’s home town.
More tomorrow.

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